If you need cataract surgery to correct a cloudy lens, you’re not alone. Research shows that cataracts are the leading cause of blindness, and cataract surgery is one of the most commonly performed procedures worldwide.
Medical professionals consider cataract surgery to be a minor procedure, but you may still feel nervous about having an eye operation. Understanding and planning for your cataract surgery recovery can help you feel more confident and prepared before your procedure.
Fortunately, many people heal quickly from cataract surgery. Following simple tips during the post-cataract surgery recovery period can minimize complications and speed up healing time. You may even qualify for “dropless” cataract surgery, a new procedure that makes recovery smoother.
How Long Does It Take To Recover From Cataract Surgery?
Most people heal from cataract surgery within eight weeks, and some patients recover in as little as four weeks. Any soreness and discomfort from the procedure should disappear within a few days. You may also experience blurry vision at the beginning of the recovery period as your eye heals from the surgery.
Your cataract surgery recovery time depends on several factors, including your physiology and the nature and size of your cataracts. One recent study on cataract patients aged 16 to 45 years reported that urban residents heal the fastest from cataract surgery. Additionally, patients who have surgery to treat secondary and traumatic cataracts recover more quickly than individuals with age-related cataracts.
You can increase your likelihood of having a fast recovery from cataract surgery by following all post-surgery care instructions and attending follow-up visits with your doctor.
Dropless cataract surgery is available to most patients considering traditional cataract surgery, except for those with glaucoma, a history of a reaction to steroids, or a high risk of inflammation. An eye surgeon can tell you more about the procedure and decide if you are a candidate for dropless cataract surgery.
Speed Up Your Recovery With Dropless Cataract Surgery
Eye-dropless cataract surgery is an innovative procedure that can drastically shorten your recovery time. During this treatment, the surgeon removes your clouded lens and replaces it with a small, artificial intraocular lens. Next, the doctor adds two compounds, Tri-Moxi and Tri-Moxi-Vanc, into the vitreous cavity of your eye.
Traditional cataract surgery requires patients to apply multiple eye drops to their affected eye three to four times daily to prevent inflammation and infection. During dropless cataract surgery, your doctor adds these solutions directly to your eye, so you won’t need to worry about using eye drops during your post-operative recovery period.
Dropless cataract surgery has numerous advantages, including:
- No wasting eyedrops when missing your eye
- No spending money on more eyedrops when due to missing your eye
- No confusion about which drops to use or when
- No struggling through arthritis pain to squeeze eye drop bottles
- No eye-drop-related discomfort on the surface of your eye
- No worries about forgetting to use eye drops or using them incorrectly
- No pharmacy co-pays for post-op eye drops
Most patients can safely undergo dropless cataract surgery. However, this procedure is not recommended for people with glaucoma, a high risk of inflammation, or past sensitivity to steroids.
Are you interested in learning more about dropless cataract surgery? The specialists at the Barnet Dulaney Perkins Eye Center can help you determine if you’re a good candidate for this cutting-edge procedure.
How to Prepare for a Successful Recovery After Cataract Surgery
No matter what type of cataract surgery you choose, there are a few simple strategies that you can use to aid your recovery process. Having a solid plan before your procedure will allow you to relax after surgery.
1. Designate Transportation After Surgery
Most people stay awake during cataract surgery, but you’ll be sedated and unable to feel any pain. The medications that keep you comfortable during the procedure prevent you from driving afterward. The surgeon will also bandage your eye after the surgery to protect it from germs and injury.
Ask a family member or friend to drive you to and from your surgery for your safety. Some eye care doctors will also allow you to use a ride-share service like Lyft and Uber, though you should ask your provider about their post-operative policies before your procedure.
2. Do Your Heavy Lifting Pre-Surgery
You can walk around and do light housework after cataract surgery. However, you should avoid bending at the waist and lifting objects heavier than 25 pounds for one week following surgery.
If you need to complete intense physical projects, you should take care of these tasks before your procedure. You can also ask family, friends, or a professional cleaning service for help with strenuous projects during your recovery period.
3. Prepare Meals Before Your Cataract Surgery
After your cataract surgery, you will likely feel tired for a few weeks as your body recovers. During this period, cooking and washing dishes may seem too exhausting.
Developing a meal plan before cataract surgery can help you stay healthy and strong as you heal. You can cook large batches of meals and freeze them for later or buy pre-cooked meals from the store. Nutritious food packed with protein and vitamins can speed your recovery process.
4. Avoid Swimming Pools for at Least One Week
Pools can be breeding grounds for disease, and these germs can infect your healing eye. If you’re a frequent swimmer, take a break for at least a week after cataract surgery. You should also avoid saunas and hot tubs during this period.
5. Use Eye Protection as Directed
Your doctor may recommend using an eye shield, an eye patch, or an ocular bandage after cataract surgery. For example, you may need to wear an eye shield while sleeping. Studies demonstrate that an ocular bandage and other protective devices can reduce post-operative symptoms like foreign-body sensation, sensitivity to light, and tearing.
6. Schedule a Break From Exercise
If you’re a regular at your gym or local running club, you’ll need to pause these activities during your recovery. In fact, you should avoid all vigorous physical activity and heavy lifting for at least a week after cataract surgery.
Why is exercise dangerous during this time? Your impaired vision makes it more likely that you will injure yourself during physical activity. Exercises that involve bending down or jumping can also increase pressure in your eyes and head, leading to complications.
After a few days, you may be able to resume light activity, such as walking, if cleared by your doctor. And after three to four weeks, you should be able to resume your regular exercise routine.
7. Follow Your Doctor’s Instructions
After your cataract surgery, your recovery will mainly occur at home, but your eye doctor will remain involved. Be sure to carefully follow their post-operative care instructions, such as using prescribed drops regularly — unless you elect to have dropless cataract surgery performed instead.
You should also attend all post-operative follow-up appointments. During these visits, your doctor will evaluate your recovery and make any necessary adjustments to your treatment plan.
Symptoms of Cataract Surgery Complications
Many people recover from cataract surgery without issue, but it’s possible to experience mild to severe complications. Monitor yourself for these symptoms during your recovery period:
- Bruising, redness, or swelling that gets worse or doesn’t improve in the days after surgery
- Changes in your field of vision
- Decreasing vision
- Eye discharge
- Strange flashes of light in your vision
- Worsening eye pain
You have a higher likelihood of experiencing complications after cataract surgery if you are elderly or female. Additionally, these conditions increase your risk of complications:
- Age-related macular degeneration
- Corneal opacity
- Diabetic retinopathy
- Previous retinal detachment
- Use of prescription alpha-blockers
If you notice signs of complications or if your eye isn’t healing as expected, contact your doctor.
Educate Yourself and Talk to an Expert
Planning for your recovery period and learning the signs of cataract surgery complications can boost your chances of rapidly and successfully recovering from your procedure. With proper preparation, you can experience smooth, stress-free healing. The effort you put into caring for your eyesight in the weeks after your surgery can lead to improved vision for the rest of your life.
Are you ready to learn more about cataract surgery? The Barnet Dulaney Perkins Eye Center’s blog provides free resources about every aspect of eye surgery and vision care. Our informative post about what to expect during cataract surgery will educate you on the process and put your mind at ease